Three airlines in Argentina and Chile are either changing owners, partners or names. Argentina's new faces reflect a search for more stable supporters during troubled times, while Chile's newly named airline is a marketing move to help meet new competition.

Eduardo Eurnekian, who is fast making his mark on Argentinian aviation, has bought control of LAPA, the country's second airline. Eurnekian already controls Airports Argentina 2000, the concessionaire for most of his nation's airports, and recently bought 30% of regional carrier Southern Winds. He is also one of four potential bidders for control of Aerolineas Argentina and its subsidiary, Austral.

Eurnekian reportedly paid only $15 million cash for control of LAPA, which has been operating in receivership, but he agreed to assume LAPA's $130 million debts. Andy Deutsche, former LAPA president, has been replaced by Emilio Noseda, a board member from Airports Argentina 2000.

In the other Argentinian change, AeroVip, a regional carrier that fed traffic to Aerolineas and Austral, elected to abandon that shaky alliance in favour of a new one with TAM Brazilian Airlines. The agreement was inked only a week before the death of TAM's president Rolim Amaro.

Across the Andes in Chile, 43-year-old Ladeco will be replaced by a new LanChile unit called LanExpress. When LanChile bought Ladeco in 1996, the Chilean Government required it to operate Ladeco independently for at least five years. When that period ends in September, LanExpress will merge the domestic operations of LanChile and Ladeco.LanChile expects this to improve its effectiveness against newcomer AeroContinente Chile.

Source: Airline Business